Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Like" This Blog! Pretty Pleeeeaaassseee!

Before Thanksgiving, I posted four items on my Facebook fan page that received tons of likes, shares and comments- they were very successful posts. Three of them have since been removed, and I have no idea why.

Was it a hacker? A bug in the system? Or did the Facebook police find the content offensive in some way? I don't think I will ever know, but I have to admit, I feel a very bizarre sense of loss.

This unfortunate event got me thinking about the increasing influence of Facebook in our lives. Recently I photographed a midnight birthday party in Union Square, populated by people in their early twenties. Since I don't go to many 22nd birthday parties, I was particularly struck by one thing- at any given moment, half of them were Facebooking on their cell phones. Not just reading but actively posting about the party, complete with photos taken moments before.

The old saying, "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it fall?" needs a 21st Century update. "If a day goes by and you don't update your status, did that day happen?"

We are all victims of our humanity. We crave acceptance and reassurance. Facebook feeds on this impulse, and exploits it brilliantly. Anyone who posts on Facebook is exposing their human insecurity, needing to know how popular they are at that moment.

A young client of mine explained it this way, "If I post on someone's wall, they're much more likely to post on mine. I post on lots of walls. If I get ten 'Likes' and a few comments on one of my posts, it's successful and I feel good. If nobody 'Likes' it, I wonder what I did wrong."

No wonder Facebook is the #1 activity for high school students- it is high school. I was so glad to be finished with high school; I didn't know I'd be trapped there forever.

Please "Like" this blog on Facebook- www.facebook.com/JordanMatterPhotography. If you're feeling generous, write a glowing comment as well. If you don't, did this blog even exist? And how will I get out of bed in the morning?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jordan Matter Photography and the Paul Taylor Dance Company 2012 Moving! Campaign

Stay tuned next week as I reveal the collaboration of Jordan Matter Photography and the Paul Taylor Dance Company 2012 Moving! Campaign.

The first of these Dancers Among Us images features this motorcycle. I had a fantastic time working with such high caliber Paul Taylor dancers- just imagine how much fun I had playing with this little prop!

Keep an eye out for exciting contests coming your way- details to be announced soon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dancers Among Us Makes a Big Splash in Miami


I read the ominous sign next to the sprawling pool at the famous Fontainebleau Miami Beach. I looked around and saw security personnel everywhere, ready to pounce at any infraction. This was going to be a problem.

Seventeen-year-old dancer Annie Gaddis and her mother Jackie drove three hours from Fort Myers to participate in Dancers Among Us. She brought a bright pink bikini. I wanted to photograph her jumping into the pool. I didn't have another idea. It had to happen.

I decided to pull some strings- I called my new BFF Mary Barrett, VP of Operations at Fontainebleau. We spent the day before bonding during an intense corporate headshot marathon, which I documented in yesterday's blog "Shooting Corporate Headshots for Miami's Biggest Vice- The World Famous Fontainebleau Resort".

"What do you want? You must want something or you wouldn't be calling." Imagine this said with an Irish accent and a twinkle in her voice. True love.

"Pool access. I want a dancer to jump in the pool. Just a few times. We'll be very discrete."

"Done." She's not one for small talk.

My initial idea was to have Annie sunbathing over the water while holding a tanning reflector. I found a good perspective that incorporated two well-placed onlookers, and we tried it a few times.

The reflector wasn't working. I wanted her to be more engaged in an activity. What about reading? I looked around and struck gold- Miami Magazine (I love to identify the location whenever possible)! I handed her a plastic cup as well.

"You're drinking water and holding the magazine towards the camera so I can read it. Try to keep the magazine out of the water when you land so it stays dry. We might have to do this a few times."

Yes, just a few.

Wow, that actually looks really good. It couldn't be that easy, right? I decided to try a different perspective. I wanted her to be more featured, perhaps soaring in the blue sky. And I wanted more palm trees.

I love it! Unfortunately, the magazine keeps blocking her back foot. Annie suggests a different pose.

I love it more! That's a pose I've never used. Amazing. Almost perfect.

"The magazine needs to be turned just a little more towards the camera, and the cup should be closer to your bottom lip."

"Legs are perfect. Turn the magazine towards me. The cup is past your bottom lip now. Bring it back up."

"Legs are amazing, but you covered your face with the magazine, which could be kind of cool but probably not."

"Perfect cup placement, but the legs are turned slightly too far away from me. I don't like the separation. Plus the magazine is wet so it's folding over at the corner. Let's get a different issue."

"God it's so close. The magazine needs to be a hair turned towards me. Plus I like the first issue better. The 'Miami' is more clear. Love the dude in the shot though."

"So, so close. Love the old guy checking you out, but your feet are not exactly together, and that damn magazine is folding over just a little. Plus the cup placement is off again. Keep it in your mouth."

"Beautiful, but your legs can get a little higher- press them against your butt. And please, Photography Gods, give me one time when the magazine doesn't fold over."

"Aggghhhhh, it's perfect except for the magazine. Everything else is absolutely perfect. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe a slight turn of the wrist? Maybe a prayer? Something to get that cover legible. Let's try it one more time."

click to enlarge

"Perfection!! Amazing work, Annie."

Forty-five splashes later, we had our shot. I turned around to see a crowd gathered. So much for the discretion I had promised Mary. I showed everyone the photo, and they all gasped. One woman commented, "The photo makes it look so easy, but it isn't at all."

"Maybe I should write a blog that explains exactly how difficult it was." I replied.

"Yes, you should."

Shooting Corporate Headshots for Miami's Biggest Vice- The World Famous Fontainebleau Resort

Two weeks ago I received an inquiry from Dana Hagendorf, VP and Chief Marketing Officer for Fontainebleau in Miami, one of the world's top resorts.

"Can you fly down to Miami next week to shoot our executive portraits?"

My calendar is booked solid until January, with an overflow of people on the waiting list. I cannot accommodate any disruption in my schedule, so I had no choice but to say...


I even added two days to shoot for my Dancers Among Us book. I'm no fool.

As I expected, the resort is lavish and stunning and immense- well deserving of their premier standing in the industry. However, I did not expect to enjoy everyone's company as much as I did. I discovered that "cool executives" is definitely not an oxymoron.

I assumed they wanted a standard corporate headshot approach- find a nice location and have each executive come to me, basically replicating the same photo every time. Instead, I proposed a unique idea- photograph each executive in a different environment, choosing a location that matches the individual's expertise.

As I was making the suggestion, I fully realized I was tripling my workload. But a full workday in Miami is like a day off in NYC, so I wasn't worried.

I had a fantastic time exploring and photographing the property. I shot for twelve hours and we laughed our asses off the entire day. Here are a few of the final images. You'll have to go to www.fontainebleau.com to see the rest.

The President and COO, Philip Goldfarb, surveying his domain from the expansive back patio

Director of Spa Operations, Josie Feria, relaxing in a corner of the 45,000 square foot spa

Leo Carrillo, VP of Facilities, standing among the massive cooling units that run up a nice $3 million per month bill

My new BFF Mary Barrett, VP of Operations, next to the world famous "Cheese Wall" (yes, they actually have a wall that's very famous, and they've named it after a milk-based food product)

Jeffery Klein, VP of Operations, Food and Beverage, overseeing another evening of madness and mayhem in the popular Blue Bar

Aneska Arrocha, General Council, and Alina Molina, VP of Human Resources, at opposite ends of the sprawling lobby

Kevin McKee, Chief Financial Officer, outside the "Presidential Suite," where all the Presidents stay when they're in Miami

Finally, Dana Hagendorf, the woman who made it all happen, looking out over the stunning property

The day that began at 7am finally ended at 7pm, but my time with some of the executives wasn't over. We continued late into the night, but I won't divulge any of the sordid details. You know the expression:

"What happens at Fontainebleau stays at Fontainebleau."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dancers Among Us Plays With Fire (and Bubbles)

In Atlanta I went down to the hippie throwback neighborhood, Little Five Points, looking for a location for Dancers Among Us. It was dusk and I had two ballerinas who looked like they stepped right out of a Janis Joplin song- Claire Stallman with Atlanta Ballet and Amanda Farris with The Georgia Ballet.

I was immediately drawn to a store called Serpentine Exotic Pets. I had grand visions of Amanda dancing with a twelve-foot python, but we soon discovered that the store was actually part of a movie set. The latest Ben Stiller film was also looking for a 1970’s vibe, so they decided to “enhance” the already authentic storefronts.

If it’s good enough for Ben Stiller…

Amanda is a fantastic jumper, so I wanted her leaping towards the dramatic red light in the doorway.

She looked kind of lonely there. She needed a friend, but I wanted to save Claire for another photo. As I usually do in these situations, I relied on serendipity to provide me with just the right person.

I looked around. Nobody. The place was dead. Hurry up Serendipity, I’m losing my light.

I took a few more photos, looked behind me again, and this is what I saw-

It’s just completely bizarre how this always seems to happen to me.

I must have been a monk in a former life.

Carlee agreed to join the photo.

Nice, but the shot didn’t really make sense. Why was Amanda jumping? I was stumped. The light was going fast.

Carlee reached into her pocket. “I have bubbles.”

I was a monk who saved a busload of drowning schoolchildren...

Fun! I loved the concept, but there was still something missing. They looked a little isolated out there. It should be more like a party.

“Do you mind if my friends join in the photo too?” Carlee asked.

… and the schoolchildren all had puppies and kittens with them.

Perfect! That’s a wrap. Let’s move on. There’s nothing else here.

“Have you ever photographed fire throwing?”

We stopped in our tracks. Carlee’s friend Mick was offering his skills for another photo. It sounded intriguing, but I had no idea what he was talking about. He gave us a demonstration.

How do I say no to that? This was becoming a very memorable evening. I looked for a new location. Around the corner I found a store called Fearless Weirdos.


I asked Claire to put on her pointe shoes and a colorful dress and to strike a pose that suggested she was stopped in her tracks. We put everyone into the background, and Mick started throwing fire.

After we got the shot, Claire tried her hand at fire throwing en pointe! Take a look at this video by Will Day to see how she did.

Thank you yet again, Serendipity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dancers Among Us Inspires New iPhone App

In January I was invited to participate in a photographer's discussion about creative inspiration, hosted by Carbone Smolan Agency (CSA), a leading brand strategy and design firm. The purpose was to create a Canon app to help inspire photographers. In a blog titled, "Photographers Who Inspire Me", I wrote about the thrill and disbelief I felt sitting on the panel with some of the world's leading photographers. It just couldn't get any better.

Until now. A few weeks ago I received an email from Paul Pierson, CSA partner and design director.

"Dancers Among Us was a real inspiration to us. It was such a pure expression of a photographic idea that is then expertly translated into a great series of images. I'm introducing the Canon app for the first time at PDN PhotoPlus on October 28. I would love to use one of your images as we demo the app. Do you have some time to come back to the office so I can show you how the app turned out, and how your image inspired us in creating our inspiration machine?"

Holy s@#t! Did I mention that the panel was filled with an awesome array of talented photographers who presented stunning, inspiring images? To be included on the panel was enough of an honor. To be selected as the inspiration for the app blows my mind.

Fortunately I never mentioned that I shoot with Nikon.

When Paul showed me the app, I was truly impressed. It's called Canon Idea Mine, and it will definitely help photographers evolve and expand their ideas. If you're stuck for an idea, the app can generate billions of unique image concepts from scratch in just two taps. If you have an idea, the app helps you create an inspiring to-do list for executing the idea.

Since presenting the app to the world on Friday, Paul has received an extremely high degree of interest. I'm not surprised. When it's available later this year, I'll download one for myself.

And not just because I inspired it!